Images de page

more gracious than just—“ a just God and a Saviour, there is none like him." More glorious is he than all created beings, yet "the servant of all," and the lowest of all in humility. The infinite majesty with which he "rides on the heavens, and is terrible out of his holy places," is equalled only by the meekness which, "when reviled, reviles not again," which forgives his enemies, and prays for his murderers. His infinite worthiness of all good is equalled only by his patience under all suffering; his supreme dominion and sovereignty only by his filial obedience and submission; his self-sufficiency by his self-denial; his native riches by his abject poverty; his renown as "the Lion of the tribe of Judah," by his love and tenderness as "the Lamb that was slain." Where the power of other friends is limited, his is almighty; where their knowledge, and wisdom, and judgment are questionable, and they are deceived, or mistaken, and perplexed; he is never in error, never deceived, never embarrassed, because his comprehensive mind knows all things.

Such a friend is Christ. And if other friends are valued in proportion to their excellence, their rank, their influence, and the strength and ardor of their attachment, how ought his friendship to be valued who is so infinitely above all creatures!

II. Jesus Christ, in the second place, is the friend of those who, without him, would be utterly friendless.

There is weight in the proverb, "a friend in need is a friend indeed." Who is more friendless than the man who is lost and ruined by sin, and has no interest in the favor of the adorable God? There is a solitude, a melancholy in his ruin, which is like the condition. of the mariner who has fallen overboard in a dark

night, and when the storm is raging. No ear heard the fall; no eye sees him; the mingled tempest rushes furiously; the gallant ship is past hearing, and he feels alone amid the wide and dark ocean. "Help is far, and death is nigh."

There are times when the sinner feels that he is lost. Somehow or other, he knows not how, he has lost his interest in the concerns of time. He has no relish for the world. Its riches and its pleasures seem to him but vanity, and the noise of its mirth fills him with melancholy and distress. The cheerful sunlight is overshadowed, and the clouds are dark and gloomy. His honors wither:

"The blue heaven wither'd; and the moon and sun,
And all the stars, and the green earth, and morn
And evening wither'd.-

Withered to him is all the universe."

He is "without God, and without hope in the world." Conscience, that ought to be his friend, has become his enemy; it is troubled in view of his outward sins, and the inward plague of his own heart. All his wonted excuses for sin have mouldered away and are forgotten; what once, in his own view, palliated them, now aggravates them all. Forgotten sins are called to remembrance; secret sins are set before him; open sins rush upon his thoughts in all their odiousness; and present sin, unrepented of, binds him in its inexorable bondage. He feels like " an alien from the commonwealth of Israel, and a stranger to the covenant of promise." He feels alone in the world, and he is afraid to be alone. He is afraid of God, because he is afraid that God is his enemy.

In such a condition, the Son of God, the Saviour of lost sinners, addresses him with the voice of a friend. He calls him. He says to him, "Hearken unto me, ye that are stout-hearted and far from righteousness; behold I-bring near my righteousness, and my salvation shall not tarry!" He says to him, "Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest!" He stoops to his sins, to his cares, to his fears, to his solitude and helplessness. Never sought as he ought to be, often abused, despised, rejected, trampled on, yet this Saviour becomes his friend.

It is a wondrous truth which was just now uttered, that the very sins of this lost and disconsolate sinner interest this compassionate Saviour. The sins of men are the cause of all their woes and helplessness; and these woes touch his heart. The greatest sinners have the greatest need; and where there is the greatest need, and that need is most deeply felt, there he is wont to show his kindness and friendship. He "came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance;" it was to make good the declaration, "O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thy help!"

III. In the third place, Jesus Christ is the most efficient friend.

Others may love us, but their love may be unavailing. Others may wish us well, and desire to make us holy and happy; yet can they do us very little good. Other friendships may be inconstant and weak; they may hesitate and falter, and become remiss and forgetful, because they are not willing to make the sacrifices that are necessary to our well-being. But where other friends fail us, his friendship is available to our every want. He is as willing to befriend us, as he is able.

No matter how great the sacrifices that our condition calls for; where they are the greatest, there his friendship is the most prompt, the most active and selfdenying.

Do you ask for proof of this? Go to his word and read it there. Go also and read it at his cross. He was a sufferer there; never was there any sorrow like unto his sorrow: never was there such a sufferer in the universe. But why did he suffer? He had done. nothing to deserve it; for he was holy and harmless, and not even the holy God could accuse him of sin. No; they were your sins and your sorrows that he bore, the just in the room and stead of the unjust. When men as sinners were obnoxious to the sword of justice, and ignominy and woe were coming upon them like a flood, he put himself in their place, bore the suffering and despised the shame. When the bitter cup was mingled for them, he took it from their hands, and himself drank it to the dregs. When wrath was coming upon them to the uttermost, and the Avenger would take no denial, no alleviation, no delay, he gave his own life the ransom. Where is there such another friend as this? 'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends; but God commendeth his love toward us, in that when we were enemies, Christ died for us."


It is this that makes the friendship of Christ so effective. The sinner that humbly looks to Christ, and receives him as his Saviour and surety, will find to his joy that the blood of this great sacrifice has paid the full demands of avenging justice, and that justice asks no more than what a trusting faith thus offers. This single act of friendship is also the pledge and earnest of

every other expression of it that the sinner needs. There is nothing his friendship will not lead him to do for sinners, after he has thus given himself for them.

IV. In the fourth place, Jesus Christ is the most unwearied, faithful, and unchanging friend.

Once secured, his friendship lasts. "Nothing shall separate us from his love." It bears long and loves still. It bears with ingratitude, with perverseness, with jealousy and suspicion, and still it loves. Men are slow to believe it, slow to learn it, slow to repay, and quick to forget it; but still it is the same. Its current is too deep and strong to be checked or diverted from its course; and though obstacle upon obstacle is thrown in its way, it still flows deep and strong.



It is rather a contrast to all earthly friendships, than a comparison with them, that is presented by the friendship of Christ to sinners. Earthly friends are fickle and changing; he is "the same, yesterday, to-day, and forever. Whom he loves, he loves to the end." The changes of this world do not affect his friendship. Earthly friends are forgetful; the best of men, and the most watchful and tender, are sometimes forgetful and thoughtless. They may forget," says he, "yet will I not forget." They may become languid and weary; they may be hasty and rash, provoked and angry; but his never slumbers nor sleeps; he is "slow to anger and of great kindness, forgiving iniquity, transgression, and sin." Even a parent's friendship, a mother's love, may be exhausted; years of disappointed hope may chill it and depress it into apathy. But such is not the friendship of Christ. His is that tried friendship that is far above the instability of those passions which put the soul alternately into a ferment of jealousy and appre

« PrécédentContinuer »